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Gonzales v. Centurion Correctional Healthcare of New Mexico, LLC

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

March 26, 2019

NICK JAMES GONZALES, Plaintiff,
v.
CENTURION HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS OF NORTHEASTERN NM DETENTION FACILITY, M. PAQUIN, MR. FNU FARNUM, JAMES BEATTY, and ATTORNEY GENERAL, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING FEDERAL CLAIMS AND REMANDING TO STATE COURT

          ROBERT C. BRACK SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS MATTER is before the Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A on the Complaint (Tort) filed by Plaintiff Nick James Gonzales in the State of New Mexico, County of Union, Eighth Judicial District Court, and removed to this Court by Defendants on May 4, 2018. (Docs. 1; 1-1.)

         The Court dismisses all of Plaintiff's federal claims, declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction, and remands any state law claims to the State of New Mexico's Eighth Judicial District Court.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff Nick James Gonzales filed his pro se Complaint (Tort) in the State of New Mexico, County of Union, Eighth Judicial District Court on November 30, 2017. (Doc. 1-1.) Plaintiff is a prisoner in the custody of the New Mexico Department of Corrections. At the time he filed his Complaint, Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Northeastern New Mexico Detention Facility (“NENMDF”) in Union County, New Mexico. (Id. ¶ 3.) Gonzales describes the nature of this action as: “Medical malpractice, negligence, negligent supervision, willful disregard to patient's rights and consequences, mental anguish, violation of statutes and constitution (denial of medical).” (Id. at 1). Defendants Centurion, Paquin, and Farnum removed the case to this Court on May 4, 2018. (Doc. 1.) Defendants claim jurisdiction is proper in this Court based on the existence of federal questions alleged in Plaintiff's Complaint. (Id. at 2.) Defendant Beatty also filed an Answer to the Complaint on May 15, 2018. (Doc. 5.)

         Plaintiff filed a Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment and Response to Defendants' Answer on May 25, 2018. (Doc. 8.) He also filed an Objection to Removal and Motion to Remand Complaint on May 25, 2018. (Doc. 9.) Defendant Beatty filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on June 7, 2018, claiming that this case should be dismissed as a matter of law based on Gonzales' failure to exhaust his prison administrative remedies. (Doc. 12.) Defendant Attorney General filed a Motion to Dismiss, asserting that the Complaint fails to state any claim and the Attorney General is an improper party. (Doc. 16.)

         Defendant Beatty filed a notice with the Court on July 28, 2018, informing the Court that Plaintiff has been transferred and is now incarcerated in Hawaii under an interstate compact. (Doc. 17.) Plaintiff also filed a Notice of Change of Address, which similarly indicates he is no longer incarcerated at NENMDF but, instead, is located at a correctional facility in Eloy Arizona that is used by the State of Hawaii to house inmates. (Doc. 18.) Plaintiff alleges claims for violation of his constitutional rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. He claims his rights to equal protection and to be free from cruel and unusual punishment have been violated by alleged indifference to serious medical needs. (Doc. 1-1 at 2, 7.) This is one of eleven cases that have either been brought as original proceedings by Plaintiff or removed to this Court.[1] This is the third case in which Plaintiff has alleged a violation of his constitutional and state law rights by prison officials for failure to provide him with one of the medications to cure his Hepatitis-C disease. (See Id. 1-1 at 5.) See also Gonzales v. Corizon Health Care, No. CV 15-00890 WJ/GJF; Gonzales v. Marcantell, No. CV 16-01275 WJ/LF. Gonzales seeks either “1 million dollars” or “100, 000 in compesary (sic) and punitive damages.” (Doc. 1-1 at 9, 10.) Gonzales also requests to be “allowed treatment for illness and symptoms intended to treat and cure.” (Id. at 7.)

         II. The Law Regarding Dismissal for Failure to State a Claim

          Plaintiff is proceeding pro se. The Court may dismiss a claim for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Applying Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must accept all well-pled factual allegations, but not conclusory, unsupported allegations, and may not consider matters outside the pleading. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Dunn v. White, 880 F.2d 1188, 1190 (10th Cir. 1989). The court may dismiss a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim if “it is ‘patently obvious' that the plaintiff could not prevail on the facts alleged.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1109 (10th Cir. 1991) (quoting McKinney v. Okla. Dep't of Human Servs., 925 F.2d 363, 365 (10th Cir. 1991)). A plaintiff must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. A claim should be dismissed where it is legally or factually insufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Id.

         In reviewing a pro se complaint, the Court liberally construes the factual allegations. See Northington v. Jackson, 973 F.2d 1518, 1520-21 (10th Cir. 1992). However, a pro se plaintiff's pleadings are judged by the same legal standards that apply to all litigants and a pro se plaintiff must abide by the applicable rules of court. Ogden v. San Juan Cty., 32 F.3d 452, 455 (10th Cir. 1994). The court is not obligated to craft legal theories for the plaintiff or to supply factual allegations to support the plaintiff's claims. Nor may the court assume the role of advocate for the pro se litigant. Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110.

         III. The Complaint Fails to State a § 1983 Claim

         Plaintiff claims that he is being deprived of due process and equal protection and is suffering infliction of cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Constitution. (Doc. 1-1 at 7.) Section 1983 is the exclusive vehicle for vindication of substantive rights under the U.S. Constitution. See Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n.3 (1979); Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994) (Section 1983 creates no substantive rights; rather it is the means through which a plaintiff may seek redress for deprivations of rights established in the Constitution); Bolden v. City of Topeka, 441 F.3d 1129 (10th Cir. 2006). Section 1983 provides:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom or usage of any State . . .subjects or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law . . . .

42 U.S.C. § 1983. To state a claim for relief under Section 1983, a plaintiff must assert acts by government officials acting under color of law that result in a deprivation of rights secured by the United States Constitution. 42 U.S.C. § 1983; West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). There must be a connection between official conduct and violation of a constitutional right. Conduct that is not connected to a constitutional violation is not actionable under Section 1983. See Trask v. Franco, 446 F.3d 1036, 1046 (10th Cir. 2006).

         Further, a civil rights action against a public official or entity may not be based solely on a theory of respondeat superior liability for the actions of co-workers or subordinates. A plaintiff must plead that each government official, through the official's own individual actions, has violated the Constitution. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009). Plaintiff must allege some personal involvement by an identified official in the alleged constitutional violation to succeed under Section 1983. Fogarty v. Gallegos, 523 F.3d 1147, 1162 (10th Cir. 2008). In a Section 1983 action, it is particularly important that a plaintiff's complaint “make clear exactly who is alleged to have done what to whom, to provide each individual with fair notice as to the basis of the claim against him or her.” Robbins v. Oklahoma, ...


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